An Illinois couple died in an apparent murder-suicide after the man became convinced that they both were suffering from the coronavirus.
Patrick Jesernik, 54, and Cheryl Schriefer, 59, were both found dead in separate rooms of their house Thursday evening.
An autopsy would later determine that neither had the virus, according to a statement from the Will County Sheriff’s Office.
“The motive appears to be that Patrick was very concerned and upset that Cheryl continued to go to work and he was fearful that they both may have contracted Covid-19,” Kathy Hoffmeyer, of the Will County Sheriff’s Office, told Oxygen.com. “Patrick was also concerned about contracting the virus because he had an elderly father who he would visit and care for.”
Hoffmeyer said the couple was not married but had been living together for more than 10 years with no prior reported incidents of domestic violence.
“Detectives are continuing their investigation, however at this time it appears [through] interviews with family members that the couple had a strong relationship with no signs of mental health issues or domestic situations,” Hoffmeyer said in an email.
Authorities were called to the couple’s home on Thursday evening to do a welfare check after Jesernik’s parents became concerned when they had not heard from him.
Deputies arrived to discover both Jesernik and Schriefer dead. Schriefer had been shot in the back of the head at close range. Her death is being ruled a homicide, the sheriff’s office said.
Jesernik was found in a separate room, with a single gunshot wound to the head. Authorities believe it was self-inflicted and his death has been ruled a suicide.
Shortly after the bodies were discovered, family members of the couple arrived at the home and told investigators that Jesernik was scared that he and Schriefer had contracted Covid-19. Schriefer, who had a dry cough and was having difficulty breathing, had been tested for the virus before she died; however, family members don’t believe she had received the results back.
The Will County Sheriff’s Office said that during the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of calls they had received have been related to domestic disputes or crisis intervention.
“As a reminder, if anyone is a victim of a domestic violence situation, the Will County Courthouse remains open for individuals in need of obtaining an order of protection,” they said in the statement.
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